An increasingly large number of international students studying in the United States have begun applying for and obtaining the EB-5 investor visa. Unlike the F-1 student visa, the most popular academic visa available, the EB-5 visa carries no academic restrictions regarding length of study, location, or institution of choice. For many international students, the uncertainty of their job prospects after graduation cause them to worry about their future – and often, the future of their families. The job market for work-visa sponsored applicants is over saturated and many foreign nationals leaving university have difficulties finding companies that are willing to sponsor them for employment, even after finishing their degree.

So, what is the EB-5 investor visa? This visa type, which was created in the early 1990s, is an investment based immigrant visa for foreign nationals from around the world. The EB-5 investment must create at least ten (10) jobs for eligible workers in the United States and is often invested in the real estate development or manufacturing sectors. Other visa types carry specific restrictions on where a visa holder can take up temporary residence, attend an academic institution, and receive employment authorization. Unlike the other visa options, EB-5 visa approval gives the applicant and their eligible family members conditional green cards allowing them to live, study, and work freely within the United States.

With an ever-growing number of F-1 visa holders being granted their EB-5 investor visas, the EB-5 visa may soon be the visa of choice for many other students studying under the F-1 visa. Are you an F-1 visa holder or know someone who is? Here’s a short breakdown of the process from F-1 visa to EB-5 investor visa holder.

Obtaining Funds

The investment required for the EB-5 visa can be sourced in a number of ways. Many applicants apply for business loans, receive personal loans from friends and family, tap into local investments, or make use of existing stocks and bonds. Additionally, many F-1 to EB-5 applicants receive monetary gifts or inheritance from their parents in order to fund the investment. There are no restrictions on where the EB-5 funding can be sourced, as long the funds are obtained lawfully and can be traced back to a legal source of income. Click here for more information on how EB-5 investment funds can be sourced.

Finding an EB-5 Regional Center 

Applying for the EB-5 without assistance is a possible but difficult task to undertake. Regional centers are United States government-approved institutions that are responsible for connecting EB-5 applicants with approved EB-5 investment projects. There is a number of financial and legal documentation that must be submitted regarding each potential EB-5 project, which the regional center has the task of obtaining and gathering. Due to the fact that each regional center would already have vetted their chosen projects and received all of the necessary project data, the EB-5 applicant has a great deal less work to do for their application outside of submitting their personal information. Click here to explore three (3) reasons why you should use a regional center during your EB-5 application.

Post-Application and Approval

The EB-5 investor visa is currently the fastest way to obtain a United States immigrant visa. Once the application has been submitted, processed, and approved the EB-5 applicant and all eligible dependents receive conditional green cards and can officially immigrate to the United States. EB-5 visa holders and their families can settle in any part of the United States and are permanent residents and therefore allowed to gain employment and attend any academic institution they see fit. After the mandatory conditional period, the EB-5 recipient and their dependents can apply to lift the conditional status. Many F-1 to EB-5 recipients continue their education under their new status and are eligible to receive federal aid and grants due to their newfound permanent residency. Interested in learning more about the educational benefits of the EB-5 visa? Click here for more information.

The EB-5 investment visa has helped thousands of foreign nationals and their families immigrate to the United States. With just a one-time investment, international students studying in the United States can go from temporary non-immigrant status with academic and employment restrictions to permanent residency and employment and educational freedom.